(Updated October 2016)
The experience I’ve gained over the past 7 years operating on some outstanding layouts in both the Springfield, MO and Kansas City area, has been invaluable in helping me develop this layout and plan my ops sessions. I have been fortunate to participate in sessions and witness first-hand the craftsmanship and operations on the layouts of Ron White and Ron Williams of Springfield; Rick McClelland, Mike Porter, and Joe Kasper of Kansas City; the outstanding KCS 3rd Sub of Steve Davis, and
Jim Senese’s magnificent Kansas City Terminal.
Mr. White has been a tremendous resource and source of support, providing feedback, alternate track arrangements, and always asking the right questions that cause me to take a second look at what it is I am trying to accomplish. He is an expert in the area of track planning for efficient operation.
Trains on both levels of the Eagle River Division move from left to right to travel Eastward. On the lower level, the Southern-most spot on the layout is known as South Park, with Lafayette to the Northeast. I decided to use fictitious location names on the ERD so I could have a little fun with them and so I don’t have guests coming over and criticizing me for not modeling some prototypical town correctly. South Park on the layout could be thought of as
Cape Girardeau or Springfield. Lafayette could’ve been named St. Louis if I had gone with actual city names.
At Riverside, the Frisco services a large Quarry and Concrete Factory, inspired by River Cement along the Mississippi River. Missouri Pacific trains share trackage rights with the Frisco for part of their journey from South Park to Oak Hill. From there, Mopac and Frisco continue to Lafayette and the Mopac right-of-way stretches to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River,to a fictitious town named Ferritin City. Ferritin City Steel, Madison Power, and a large industrial park provide for lots of train operation in that location. Missouri-Kansas-Texas trains operate on their own track which connects three locations: Beaver Cove (staging), Katydid, and Oak Hill. A lumber yard, Coca-cola bottling plant, grocery wholesaler, grain elevator, and several other industries are serviced by the Katy at Oak Hill. In addition, T.R.R.A. (Terminal RR of St. Louis) trains use MOP tracks to reach Ferritin City. Mopac serves the power plant and steel mill operations, while the TRRA works the industrial park.
The steepest grade on the layout takes trains from the lower to the upper level and vice-versa. The grade was extended so that it does not exceed 2.5%. Only Missouri Pacific trains operate on the upper level, servicing a large brewery complex, paint factory, several grain elevators, and other industries.
South Park Terminal is a staging yard. It was originally built to be a classification yard but works better as staging because of its location. Mopac, Frisco, and TRRA trains are staged at SPT. Ironically, the yards at Lafayette (East) and Waldo (West) were originally intended as staging but have been reworked to serve as classification yards. January 2018 update: Lafayette yard was converted back to a staging yard and renamed Lafayette Terminal. Waldo Yard now has an assigned yardmaster on duty to build and classify trains.
I continue to tweak trains and routes since switching from car cards and waybills to JMRI switch lists/manifests about 6 months ago. I am using Manifest Creator to print the manifests. All locations are set up on schedules with custom loads in JMRI. I’m using my car card boxes to hold gondola and hopper loads nowadays.
My track plans give a general idea of the layout and the location of main lines, but these plans are sorely in need of updating because of multiple changes on both levels. Not shown at all are the steel mill and industrial park, which reside in another room.
The System Map is more current, and shows the relative location positions.
New system map added January 2018
January 2018: The ERD now operates with staging yards at South Park Terminal, Lafayette Terminal and Katydid, with a yardmaster assigned to the classification yard at WALDO. Katydid serves as staging for the M-K-T (Katy) RR, while Lafayette and South Park host MoPac, Frisco, T.R.R.A., Amtrak, and sometimes other railroads.